I’ve seen several comments in the Forum that misrepresent Dershowitz’s remarks in the Senate impeachment trial. I provide the video for the record, then, but even more for Dershowitz’s remarks themselves which I regard as excellent and informative.
Dershowitz says little that other constitutional scholars would disagree with. There is one topic, however, that has drawn some criticism. That is Dershowitz’s assertion that impeachment requires a crime or criminal-like conduct.
This particular assertion is unusual in that it represents Dershowitz’s own contribution to scholarship on the subject of the nature of impeachable offenses. The idea has generated some heat, but it is really a triumph of common sense.
A crime, after all, is doing something wrong, something that shouldn’t be done. There is no shortage of human conduct we commonly describe as wrong even though, technically, it is quite legal. Sometimes we actually say about the doer of a bad deed, “It’s a crime what he did,” even when we know there is no statute the deed violated.
Dershowitz gives us a different perspective on such cases: When the deed is not a bad one, then the doer has done nothing wrong. The doer has committed no crime, nor has he committed any criminal-like behavior.
Thus, Dershowitz says in the video: “Purely non-criminal conduct, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are outside the range of impeachable offenses. That is the key argument I am presenting today.”
Makes perfect sense. You wouldn’t throw a boy scout in jail for helping a little old lady cross the street, would you?